The Union government on Thursday issued guidelines for vaccination near home, making it easier for the elderly and the differently-abled to get inoculated against coronavirus close to the places of their residence.In the 'Near to Home COVID Vaccination Centres (NHCVC)' guidelines, the Health Ministry said individuals above 60 who have not been vaccinated
or have received just the first dose, and those below 60 but with disabilities due to physical or medical conditions will be eligible for vaccination at such centres.
The ministry said the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has recommended the proposal by a Technical Expert Committee of the Union Ministry on the guidelines for NHCVC for elderly and differently-abled citizens. These recommendations have also been accepted by the Union Ministry of Health. "The NHCVC for elderly and differently-abled citizens would follow a community-based, flexible and people-centric approach, bringing the COVID Vaccination centres nearer to homes," the ministry said.
The Technical Expert Committee's recommendations are aimed at ensuring vaccination of senior citizens and differently abled population having limited mobility due to their physical condition, the ministry said. It said the recommendations are in response to the need to increase access by bringing vaccination services closer to the community while maintaining all necessary precautions and safety measures in accordance with the operational guidelines and advisories issued from time to time.
According to the guidelines, which has been communicated to all the states and UTs by the health ministry, a community-based approach has to be followed where sessions can be conducted at non-health facility based settings nearer to home, e.g. in a community centre, RWA centre/office, panchayat ghar, school buildings, old age homes etc.
Based on the cohort of eligible population, District Task Force (DTF)/Urban Task Force (UTF) will decide the location of NHCVC to maximize the reach of services to the target population, reduce vaccine wastage along with causing minimal impact on the existing health services, the guidelines state. According to the guidelines, the NHCVC will be linked to an existing CVC for vaccination purposes; the CVC in-charge will be responsible to provide vaccine, logistics and human resources.
The site for NHCVC will be pre-identified in collaboration with community groups and RWAs. Such sites could be at Panchayat Bhawan, Sub-Health Centres and Health and Wellness Centres with availability of adequate space, community halls; RWA premises, polling booths, schools etc, the ministry said. These sites should have a vaccination room and a waiting area with appropriate access for the target group, for example ramp for wheelchair access and observation room to ensure waiting for 30 minutes post vaccination as per MoHFW operational guidelines, the statement said.
Once identified and verified for meeting CVC criteria, all such sites will be registered on the CoWIN portal as NHCVC. Each team at NHCVC will comprise five members -- team leader (necessarily a doctor), vaccinator, vaccination officer 1 for Co-WIN registration and/or verification of beneficiary, and vaccination officer-2 and 3 for crowd control, assistance to vaccinator, ensuring 30 minutes observation of beneficiaries following vaccination and any other support.
In a scenario where there is a group of target beneficiaries under one roof like Old Age Home etc., the NHCVC can be organised at that site as per the operational guidelines. The guidelines also include details regarding registration and appointment of beneficiaries -- either in advance, on-site or Facilitated Cohort Registration process on Co-WIN, line listing of beneficiaries, identification of NHCVC Site and linkage with existing CVC, facilitate travel of elderly and persons with special needs to session site wherever needed, making the vaccination center friendly to the elderly and persons with special needs.
The Union Health Ministry has advised all states and UTs to direct the concerned officials to take note of these recommendations and ensure prompt necessary action for their detailed planning and effective implementation under the ongoing vaccination drive.